Wednesday, January 18, 2012

TUSD vs The Tempest: To teach or not to teach

[Note: A chronological list of links to AICL's coverage of the shut-down of the Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District is here. Information about the national Mexican American Studies Teach-in is here. The best source for daily updates out of Tucson is blogger David Abie Morales at Three Sonorans.]

Yesterday afternoon, the Tucson Unified School District issued a press release that says reports of book banning are misleading. They specifically say that teachers can teach The Tempest. As this audio demonstrates, teachers who taught in the Mexican American Studies program can teach it if they can do it without talking about race or oppression. [Source for video: Three Sonorans YouTube channel]

"Once you begin to describe the Natives, and once you begin to delve into issues that are going to be from a critical race theory perspective, that's when you're not in that safe harbor, so to speak."

AICL Coverage of Arizona Law that resulted in shut down of Mexican American Studies Program and Banning of Books


jpm said...

"SAFE HARBOR?!?!? Silencing of critical perspectives on race and class is a "safe harbor"? Wow. I didn't think it was possible for a human body to survive without a spine, but looks like someone in that conversation has managed it.

Alex Fraser said...

Can one teach The Tempest without dealing with . . . SLAVERY? Without "critical race theory"? "Safe harbor," indeed! Here is a typical administrator, a time serving bureaucrat climbing the career ladder, trying to fineness an untenable regulation.

The problem, of course, is the law. How do educational institutions comply with this fascist Arizona law without ensnarling themselves in a web of contradictions?

How does an English or Social Studies department teach (for instance, another renowned work) The Diary of Ann Frank without meeting the issues of "critical race theory," racism, gender discrimination, genocide -- all the dreadful thoughts and acts also found in The Tempest or some of the proscribed texts inherent in this new Arizona legislation?

Does the Arizona Education Department or individual school districts "throw out" all of these works? Or do they backpedal, granting exemptions and dispensations? "We didn't mean that kind of race theory." Or perhaps the point of this ill-conceived bit of racism? "We only mean to ban works that might be conceived as applicable to our specific bigotry toward Native Americans in the State Arizona."

It will be interesting to see what hoops and dilemmas the Supreme Court goes through on this one!

Meanwhile, children in Arizona are going to badly confused and ill-served by their educational system unless someone goes into court and gets an injunction against this piece of un-Constitutional junk!

Alex Fraser -- San Francisco, California

Michael Powers said...

Every nation on the planet has it's atrocities. It's no less true with us. If they aren't acknowledged honestly, they are inevitably repeated. This goes on until a tipping point is reached. Then Bastilles are stormed, guillotines taken out of storage, and the appropriate amount of bloodletting ensues. Time passes, history is revised, the oppressed become the oppressors, and the whole cycle repeats.

Even with our mistakes, there is much to love about this country, and I believe it is strong enough for it's history to withstand honest scrutiny.